Textbook details county’s active transportation work

Kate Hall and Sue Shikaze local advocates for active transportation in Haliburton County are feeling a sense of pride after their co-authored work was included in the textbook Canadian Community As Partner: Theory and Multidisciplinary Practice by Ardene Robinson Vollman.

Available online the Wolters Kluwer published textbook highlights the county’s efforts endorsing and implementing ideas for active transportation in a small rural community between 2005 to 2012.

The summarized writings of Hall a community planning consultant and Shikaze a Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge Health Unit’s health promoter is taken from the report Seven Years Later: Evaluating Impact on Active Transportation in Haliburton County which was completed in October 2013.

It focused on how more people are walking and biking or using some form of active transport as a result of the advocacy and research efforts by the Communities in Action committee (CIA) which led to implementation of policies and infrastructure in the county for the period from 2005 to 2012.

With federal provincial and local funds the CIA was key in educating the public and municipalities and establishing collaborations partnerships and research on plans and strategies for active transportation for not just its health benefits but also its economic benefits.

Formed in 2004 the CIA coalition has made the county a model for other rural communities. Before its creation most active transportation practices were based on urban examples leaving the CIA to innovate or adapt known practices for our county.

According to the promotional paragraph online the book is being marketed to Canadians public health health promotion and nursing students for effective community practice. It is in its fourth edition and is divided into three sections with the first two theory-based and concludes with the case studies where Hall and Shikaze’s summary is included.

Hall said this recognition is not just about them but the entire county and its efforts to work toward a common goal.

Although the CIA is the catalyst for active transportation the success is for everyone involved Shikaze said.

“We don’t do it alone. We depend on the work of the county and the municipalities and they’ve done lots of really great work themselves” she said.

Some of the examples of the strong working relationship between CIA municipalities and the county are the Share the Road signs throughout the county; streetscape work in Minden and Haliburton which improved walking conditions; the addition of walking paths like Riverwalk in Minden; and paved shoulders with new roads.

Other community partners making active transportation possible include the Haliburton County Development Corporation U-Links and its students and the Ontario Healthy Community Coalition.

Shikaze said it’s a way to bring positive attention to the county.

“We’re just really pleased that our work was recognized as valuable for this kind of textbook. We’re always really pleased to get Haliburton County on the map in different ways. I think this is one other way of doing it. People will read it and not only learn about what’s happened around active transportation in a small rural community but they will read about Haliburton too” Shikaze said.

Shikaze welcomes being an example for others seeing it as incentive to continue the effort and recognizes how far they’ve come.

“Sometimes things like this take time and it’s easy to sort of feel like you’re just grinding away at stuff and not much is happening. But when you have an opportunity like this to write about what you’ve actually accomplished you go oh wow there’s actually been some progress made and really good successes. There’s been some really great investment from partners and from the municipalities” she said. “Those kinds of things help you to realize oh yeah. Lots of things happened.”

Shikaze said there is a correlation between public health and active transportation which is a key message for the CIA.

“When we’re talking about people’s health there is a connection between that and how they are able to get around in a community and also that there are things that can be done in a small rural community. That’s the big thing about the work that we’ve done” she said.

“Lots of stuff is being done in cities around walking and cycling and active transportation and more is being done now in small communities. We were really at the front of the wave in terms of how do we do active transportation planning? What does it look like in a small rural community? I think that’s why there is interest in what we’ve done because it is not quite as common.”